In two days time [Wednesday 10th August] NASA will launch the biggest spacecraft ever to be sent to Mars - Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). UK scientists are involved with MRO’s Mars Climate Sounder instrument that will profile the atmosphere of Mars. Additionally, MRO carries high resolution cameras to provide the most detailed picture yet of the Red Planet’s surface, including the potential to trace lost Mars missions such as the UK’s Beagle 2.
Scheduled for launch from Cape Canaveral on Wednesday 10th August (12.54hrs. BST; 07.54hrs. EDT) the prime objective of the mission is to determine the history of water on Mars. A suite of instruments will zoom-in to capture extreme close-up images of the Martian surface, analyse minerals, look for subsurface water, trace how much dust and water are distributed in the atmosphere and monitor the daily global weather.
UK scientists from Oxford, Cardiff and Reading Universities are involved in the Mars Climate Sounder (MCS) instrument – essentially a weather satellite for Mars. It will profile the atmosphere of Mars detecting vertical variation in temperature, dust and water vapour concentration.
Peter Barratt | alfa
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